CHENNAI: Think long and hard: How many people have you seen skating across the road on their hands? Meet Praveen Kumar, who straps on the roller skates on his hands and gets ready to demonstrate his skills on an empty road near Mylapore’s Nageswara Rao Park.
This 25-year-old is among the select few in the country who can skate on his hands — and perhaps the only one who is trying to enter the Limca Book of Records by skating 100 metres upside down. “In fact, I don’t even know how to skate the normal way,” laughs Praveen.
After a small run-up, Praveen gets on his hands, goes vertical with his legs stretched out, muscles rippling. His body stays firm in mid-air, and finally he does a graceful flip and lands back on his feet. “I started training a year back. It took me four months just to do the handstand on skates. Then I slowly started hand-walking and then rolling,” says the gymnast who trains kids at a school in T Nagar.
He shows us the inline skates’ four wheels, all in a straight line — they roll freely. “In the beginning, I tightened the screws so that the skates were slower and I could master control. Now, I’ve loosened them to allow full speed,” he explains.
Praveen is a modern-day Ekalavya — he learnt the ropes from the ever-reliable YouTube, and by following a German inline skater called Mirko Hanssen. “I’ve never met him, nor have I heard his voice, but we’re friends on Facebook,” he says.
When he began practising, he would fall and injure his wrist often — and this made him afraid of getting hurt again. “But I got a lot of encouragement from my friends, and even Mirko. I had sent him my skating video and he immediately replied. He told me only one thing: ‘Looking good, don’t give up’. Even the kids at school pushed me. Aarthi, a kid I train, told me there’s nothing I can’t do, so I should just go ahead and do it,” beams Praveen. “While I trained for this physically, it’s those around me who have supported me, and made me mentally tough.”
But the support system has not always been there. Coming from an economically backward household without a father, Praveen is the sole breadwinner of the family. Naturally, people had a lot to say about his goal. “They told me this was a waste of time, but I want to prove that despite these struggles, I can achieve great things,” he explains.
Smiling with a touch of bitterness, he says that he has hurt himself on these skates more than doing the actual skating itself. But now he’s back on his feet – or in this case, his hands. He has written to the people at Limca Book of Records, who have asked him to submit a video of him skating 100 metres by June 30. “I can skate more than 75 metres now. I’ll reach the target soon,” smiles Praveen.
For details, contact Praveen 96770 07143